A Better Life?

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Havana's Payret Cinema

Yesterday, when I was walking briskly to the Payret Cinema (it was just about time for the movie), I saw that a young guy standing against the wall on the side of the cinema had gotten caught up in an embarrassing situation.

He was a kid who couldn’t have been over twenty, olive-skinned, thin and with light-colored eyes.  He was dressed in tight red clothes that highlighted his muscularity.

But at that moment, this guy against the wall was confronted by a man who, judging from his looks, must have been over forty-five; he was white, had black hair and was extremely fat. I could tell he was talking in a low voice to the kid, who could have been his son.

The youngster was paying attention to this man but in his face you could tell that he didn’t want to be there.

Then I realized what was happening because the boy looked at me embarrassed.  But there was little to nothing I could do, so I acted indifferent.

I would have liked to have punched the fat guy, who was fumbling through his wallet longing to buy a few hours of sex with this “schoolboy.”  I would have also wanted to be the father of this kid and talk for several hours with him.  Probably something the adults who live with him in the same house have not, because they’re so wrapped up in their own concerns.

Thank God I didn’t have to trip over realities like this one in the streets of my city back in my day.  I didn’t have to deal with uneducated people selling their bodies, people trying to get through not only economic problems, but also family conflicts – individuals stuck in vicious circles from which it’s difficult to escape by themselves.

Then too, there’s the ignorance of the parents (or their complicity), frequently far from being capable of raising their children properly.  There’s no doubt they couldn’t care less about the futures in store for these kids who take all kinds of chances for a handful of cash and promises of a better life.